Psalm 117 (1) Praise the LORD, all you nations; extol him, all you peoples. (2) For great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD.
Interestingly, Psalm 117 is the middle chapter of the Bible and the shortest with only two verses. This may just be fun Bible trivia, but truly God does nothing accidently. There is meaning and joy and promises in these two powerful verses.
Psalm 117 is titled The LORD’s Faithfulness Endures Forever (ESV), Let All Peoples Praise the LORD (NKJV), A Hymn of Praise (ICB), among others and is considered one of the “Egyptian Hallel” psalms sung during Passover. Psalms 113 and 114 were sung before eating the Passover meal, and Psalms 115 through 118 were sung after the meal. Hallel is the Hebrew word for “praise” and these six psalms are remembering the time in Israel’s history when the Lord saved them from slavery in Egypt.
Our Lord Jesus sang these songs during the Last Supper- the Passover meal- on the night He was betrayed. The story of the Lord’s deliverance of His people from Egypt is the culminating story of the Old Testament and the fulfillment of God’s faithfulness and provision for His people as He brought them home into the Promised Land. But the story of Jesus- the Son of God- His life, death, and resurrection is the culminating story of all history from creation to the day He will return to redeem the world.
Let’s look a couple of different translations with this tiny, yet mighty psalm of the Egyptian Hallel:
Praise the LORD, all you nations. Praise him, all you people of the earth. Psalm 117:1 NLT Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples! NKJV Praise the LORD, all nations! Glorify Him, all peoples! HCSB
This little psalm of joy, sung at the end of the Passover meal as a reminder of the Lord’s deliverance of His people from slavery in Egypt, calls all people, all nations, even “you Gentiles” to praise the Lord. From the beginning, the Lord chose the people of Israel as His own, but His intention was that all people of the earth would know Him through His chosen people.
The LORD had said to Abram, "Go from your country, your people and your father's household to the land I will show you. "I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you." Genesis 12:1-3 NIV
Since this is one of the six Egyptian Hallel Psalms, sung as part of the Passover service, Jesus would have sung Psalm 117 with His disciples. Therefore, on the eve of His crucifixion, we know that Jesus had all the peoples, all the Gentiles in mind. Through His work on the cross and victory over death at the empty tomb, God would call a people to Himself from every tribe and tongue.Pastor David Guzik, http://www.enduringword.com
The Apostle Paul quotes this verse in his letter to the Romans (Romans 15:11). In this chapter, Paul is telling the people in Rome that God has called him to minister to the Gentiles, to them:
He gave me the priestly duty of proclaiming the gospel of God, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:16b
God intended for all people to know Him. The story began with Israel and spread from there. It’s not unlike our own families: God has called you and I to Himself. Then we are expected to take His love and spread it to our neighbors and whomever we come into contact with. God’s love and provision and eternity are for anyone from any background, a free gift.
And in the of the Passover meal, the Jewish people stop to remember this. They stop to sing and to thank God for His provision for all mankind.
For his unfailing love for us is powerful; the LORD's faithfulness endures forever. Praise the LORD! Psalm 117:2 NLT For His merciful kindness is great toward us, and the truth of the LORD endures forever. Praise the LORD! NKJV For His lovingkindness is great toward us, and the truth of the LORD is everlasting. Praise the LORD! NASB
Psalm 117 opens with a call for all to worship the Lord. The psalm closes with a reminder of the power of God’s love for all mankind, all of His creation. The psalmist calls on the Lord’s covenant love, hesed. The Hebrew word Hesed (or Chesed) is translated into English as, unfailing love, lovingkindness, steadfast love, unfailing love, loyal love, etc. The word is used some 250 times in the Old Testament, and Bible scholars believe that the translations do not do the meaning of the word justice. As we struggle to understand the greatness of God, His love is sometimes the hardest to comprehend. God Himself used hesed to explain His love to His people:
Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. As he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Exodus 34:6-7 NIV
The love of God is great it is hard to understand, but as we seek to walk with Him every day, He will teach us through His word.
Praise the LORD, all you nations. Praise him, all you people of the earth. For his unfailing love for us is powerful; the LORD's faithfulness endures forever. Praise the LORD! Psalm 117:1-2 NLT
Father in heaven, thank you for this tiny and powerful song. Thank you for the reminder that you love all and you created all and you sent Jesus to cover the sins of all mankind. All that you ask is for us to turn our eyes to you and accept you in our hearts as Lord and Savior. Thank you for your promises and your faithfulness through time. May we walk in your light and your love today. Amen.